Anniversary of the end of the Berlin Wall

The night of November 9, 1989 saw the fall of the Berlin Wall at the hands of the people it had isolated for twenty-eight years.

In the famous speech (available here) that former US President Ronald Reagan gave at the Brandenburg Gate in 1987, he correctly declared that the Wall represented "the question of freedom for all mankind." Its downfall marks an important landmark in the triumph of freedom over political and economic oppression.

As we wrote on the anniversary of the Apollo moon landing, it is important to remember that there was -- and continues to be -- an ideological struggle between those who believe "that the best way to organize society and reach goals is through centralized government planning" and those who believe that the best way is "to enable individuals to make their own choices through free enterprise, the rule of law, and respect for private property." The tearing down of the Berlin Wall, as the Apollo moon landing, shows that the second choice is the right one.

Yet, amazingly, many voices even in countries that have benefited most from the freedom to choose and the ability to own private property do not understand this fact.

The Wall Street Journal yesterday noted that anchorman Dan Rather went on record saying, "Despite what many Americans think, most Soviets do not yearn for capitalism or Western-style democracy." City Journal contributor Daniel Flynn notes that in 1991, the LA Times stated "Ten months after the new Germany merged, women in the eastern sector are coming to the stunning realization that, in many ways, democracy has set them back 40 years." He also notes that in 1992, CBS anchorwoman Connie Chung declared, "In formerly communist Bulgaria, the cost of freedom has been virtual economic disaster."

These voices inevitably point out that capitalism and freedom can seem less secure than central planning, and are often blamed for poverty and inequality. Friedrich Hayek addressed this very issue in his landmark text The Road to Serfdom, first published in 1944. His remarks are appropriate on this historic anniversary. There, he said:

"What our generation has forgotten is that the system of private property is the most important guaranty of freedom, not only for those who own property, but scarcely less for those who do not. It is only because the control of the means of production is divided among many people acting independently that nobody has complete power over us, that we as individuals can decide what to do with ourselves. If all the means of production were vested in a single hand, whether it be nominally that of 'society' as a whole or that of a dictator, whoever exercises this control has complete power over us. Who can seriously doubt that a member of a small racial or religious minority will be freer with no property so long as fellow-members of his community have property and are therefore able to employ him, than he would be if private property were abolished and he became owner of a nominal share in the communal property? Or that the power which a multiple millionaire, who may be my neighbor and perhaps my employer, has over me is very much less than that which the smallest fonctionnaire possesses who wields the power of the state and on whose discretion it depends whether and how I am to be allowed to live or work? And who will deny that a world in which the wealthy are powerful is still a better world than one in which only the already powerful can acquire wealth?"

These truths are important for all members of society to understand. Please share them with your friends on this historic anniversary.

Subscribe (no cost) to receive new posts from the Taylor Frigon Advisor via email -- click here.


Post a Comment